The Corning Museum Of Glass is a special place where librarians, curators, artists, and educators all work together to share the history and craft of glass making. Rebecca Hopman’s series on her work at the CMOG’s Rakow Research Library is an excellent template for creating and sustaining the library-as-incubator. Enjoy! ~Erinn

The library-museum connection: from paper to glass

by Rebecca Hopman

What strikes you about the artwork below? Both show the same idea, one on paper and one in glass. How does each piece inform the other?

These pieces were both created by Dale Chihuly and his team in 1993. On the left is a preparatory drawing, used to create the glass object on the right, “Erbium Chandelier with Gilded Putto.” Each is a work of art in its own right, but together they offer viewers a chance to see the way Chihuly designs his work, and how his ideas translate from paper to glass. Personally, I’m struck by the feeling of movement in the drawing, a quality Chihuly recreates in the glass. I’ve seen Erbium Chandelier many times while walking through the museum, noticing how each limb looks like someone just inflated it with a big puff of air. But it was only when I saw the reaching vines in the drawing that I realized the chandelier has a sort of movement to it, too. Perhaps a little more tentative than the grasping vines, but more graceful too. I wonder – was that Chihuly’s intention or just the nature of the medium?

For artists, following someone else’s path of creation can be an inspiration for their own work. This past summer our local public library’s First Friday Art Club visited CMoG to learn about the design process. Their trip included a glassmaking demonstration, a visit to the library, and a visit to the museum. While at the library, these young artists studied a number of design drawings in our collection. We talked about the drawings, which ranged from precise, detailed models to rough sketches and abstract designs. The style and precision of each design might depend on a number of factors, for example, whether the artist was creating a blueprint for a glassblower or simply jotting ideas down on paper.

The teens also toured the library exhibition, which explored the design process of René Lalique and his contemporaries. Afterwards, the group visited the galleries to see the glass collection, including several objects created using the designs we looked at. They discussed the differences between the paper and glass designs, and how each artist’s ideas translated from one medium to another. At the end of the visit, the teens worked on their own drawings, imitating the styles they saw during their trip. The group’s new insights into the creative process prompted them to think about how their own designs translate into different mediums.


Museum and library visitors might only see one part of the creative process – either the work behind a design or the finished object. Together, libraries and museums can connect the concepts and techniques an artist uses in her work to the artwork displayed in the galleries, offering visitors, artists, and researchers a chance to see an idea grow from a spark into a fully-formed work of art.



profilepic_hopmanRebecca Hopman is the Outreach Librarian at The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. She has worked in a number of libraries and archives since 2005 and received her MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012. When she’s not at the library, you might find her embroidering, writing snail mail, or cheering on the Chicago Cubs. Follow her on

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